We’ve talked about the benefits and the pitfalls of a fix and flip (in a nutshell: you could make a load of money or you could end up in the psych ward) when you are, in fact, the fixer and the flipper. But what if you are just on the buying end of the deal? What if you are the lucky potential owner of a house that has been polished and prettied up for you?
Well, first, pat yourself on the back for finding a diamond without the rough. You just saved yourself a lot of work. And maybe your sanity. And who can put a price on sanity?
The most important thing, besides imagining your first cocktail party and where you’ll hang the Halloween decorations, is to make sure the house is safe, both structurally and environmentally. Here are a few issues to investigate before you move in:
Usually asbestos is found in homes built before 1980, so if you are considering a house that was built before then, ask for an asbestos test as part of your contract. Asbestos can hide in a lot of places, including insulation and vinyl tiles.
Most homes built before 1978 will have lead paint, but the test to find lead is invasive. Most sellers will provide a disclosure to buyers stating that the presence of lead-based paint is not known. If you are concerned about this as a buyer, you can test for lead-based paint once you purchase the property.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that exists in the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. And radon can cause lung cancer. Fun, right? So, in a nutshell, request a radon test before buying.
Those trees in the front yard are gorgeous, but they could cause you problems in the future. Asking the seller to provide a sewer scope allows you to identify where a line is damaged and where roots may be entering or suffocating a pipe. And a scope will allow you to see how many areas in the pipe system need attention, which will determine if you’re looking at repair or replacement. As you can imagine, the word ‘replacement’ is much more costly than ‘repair.’
Talk To People:
Like the planning department, your neighbors, your realtor and the owners. The planning department can offer guidelines on what is and is not allowed for future renovations; so if you are buying this house with big plans to pop the top or extend the kitchen, be sure those projects will be approved before you buy.
And making inroads with the neighbors is always helpful; these are the people who can tell you what really happens on the block, how strict the HOA board is, and how the area has changed over the years.
Your realtor is on your side, always. But so are the current owners. Really. They want to sell you their house just as much as you want to buy it. So ask them for insight on the property, the previous owners, and any contractors and suppliers they used to update the space.
Finding your next home should be a dream, not a nightmare.
We are a proud of our state, aren’t we? Maybe even, dare I say, arrogant, when it comes to Colorado? After all, we boast over 300 days of sunshine, are home to the esteemed Air Force Academy, and live in a place so stunningly gorgeous that Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America The Beautiful” while drinking in the views from Pikes Peak. (We will get to ‘drinking’ later.)
Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous road in North America, we host the largest rodeo, the Great Sand Dunes are a national monument considering the 46,000 acre park was created over a million years ago from wind and ocean waters, and we are the only city to turn down an offer to host the Olympics – we did not want the cost or the pollution to damage our beloved Colorado.
But that’s just the beginning. Recent news has only added to our egos because:
We Have Brains:
“America’s Brain Health Index”, a study conducted by the National Center for Creative Aging — ranks Colorado third in the nation for brain health. Researchers examined 21 criteria, including everything from physical and mental health, diet and social well-being.
Coloradans earned their high ranking, the report says, by “taking care of their physical and mental health and maintaining a diet rich in DHA-fortified foods and supplements.”
We Have Jobs:
Denver ranks No. 1 for professional and technical job growth.
Denver is No. 3 — and Colorado is No. 4 — among the top 10 cities and states for job growth, according to an Arizona State University report.
Colorado also ranks No. 1 for the rate of growth of government jobs.
We Have Beer!:
Denver was recently voted as the 2nd best city for beer drinkers. Why? Because we have 154 breweries and lots of hip craft brews, including Denver Beer Co. and Great Divide Brewing. And we host the Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer events in the country.
We Have Equity In Our Homes:
A National Association of Realtors report proves that not only is Colorado a great place to live, it’s a great place to buy. The following 10 real estate markets have realized the greatest equity appreciation since the fourth quarter of 2010, due to relatively low prices, low mortgage rates, and investor demand
1. San Jose
2. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. San Diego
9. Cape Coral-Fort Myers
So what does this mean for you? Well – you are smart, happy, employed, beer-loving people who should consider buying your next home! See how I did that?
All jokes aside, the real estate market is healthy and the trend seems to moving in the right direction. When it comes to purchasing or refinancing or even remodeling, investing in Colorado is a sure bet. And we didn’t even need a fancy report to tell us that.
Last year, the real estate market was, well, crazy. I mean crazy in a good way. Crazy can be good, unless it involves people behind the wheel of a car or B-list celebrities.
In 2013, homes were flying off the proverbial shelf, sometimes going under contract within three hours of being listed. The median price of homes rose and foreclosures dropped and mortgage rates were actually affordable – good, good, and more good.
So what does that mean for 2014? While 2013 was a fantastic year for real estate, it doesn’t mean 2014 won’t be great. Granted, 2013 is a tough act to follow; but predictions for this year are positive, with experts believing that home sales will remain at or near the current level and prices will hold steady or even rise a bit. There will likely be a better balance between buyers and sellers, alleviating the panic buyers, concerned with the reality of losing the house of their dreams, felt this past year.
What can you do if you are hoping to buy in 2014? Reach out to me or you personal Realtor now rather than later and provide me with your wish list. Be specific, but flexible. As Realtors, we are constantly touring homes, talking with sellers, and learning of properties that are not yet on the market but may be coming soon. By sharing your wants and needs with us now, you are one step ahead of other buyers in the marketplace.
Thinking of selling this year? Be cognizant of that fact and keep it in the forefront of your mind when making big and small decisions, including renovations, welcoming new pets into your world, and even buying non-essentials for your home. Remember that you are planning on showing your property at some point, and when that happens, you will have to de-clutter and clean to position your property in the best light.
Got a leaky faucet or a non-working fireplace? Tackle those projects now to avoid the mad dash later. And now is not the ideal time to housetrain a puppy (is there ever a good time for this job…I’ve done this more times than I can count and let me just say, wow?!) or paint your bathroom Bronco’s orange or start collecting bottle caps from around the globe. You can do all of those things in your next house – for now, keep it simple and save yourself some crazy.
As you know, I have made a career out of helping people buy and sell homes. Finding the perfect neighborhood for a growing family or a posh pad for a transplanted corporate couple offers me the chance to do what I like to do best – and it’s the perfect excuse for taking clients out for a delicious lunch to celebrate. All in all, not a bad way to make a living.
The thing is, there are so many individuals in Denver that may never have a home to call their own; and to say that is disheartening is an understatement. These frigid days only compound the fact that there are men, women, and – the worst – children, out on the street every single night. And while I can’t change the world like I thought I could in my youth (aahh, youth!); I realize that any small gesture can make a big difference. Everything counts.
Last year I started a new tradition and spent my Christmas morning in Civic Center Park handing out socks, hand warmers and food to Denver’s homeless. It was not like any other Christmas morning I’ve had in my 50-something years because…well…it was way better. Colder, but still better.
I realized, once again, that doing something good for someone else makes me feel good. I like that feeling. A lot.
So I plan to spend December 25th at Civic Center Park again, as I am officially addicted to this effort. Obviously, not all of you can pack up your families and head downtown, but if you’d like to support this cause, I will be collecting items for my “Christmas Care Kits.” Yes, I’ve given MY packages an official name (this is where being Type A really comes in handy). “Socks and Hand Warmers” were sooooo last year.
I’m going BIG this year! See the list below and if you’d like to participate by donating or volunteering, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me on Facebook. I can pick up items from you or you are welcome to drop items at Coldwell Banker Devonshire (200 Fillmore Ste. Suite 300 in Cherry Creek).
In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all and to ALL a warm(er) night.
Items Needed for Christmas Care Kits*
- Reusable water bottles
- Fruit snacks or individual apple sauce with pull tabs
- Small cans of tuna or tuna kits with pull tabs and crackers
- Crackers with peanut butter and cheese
- Fast food gift certificates
- Pre-paid calling cards
- Socks and gloves
- Hand wipes
- Nail clippers
- Band aids
- Feminine products
- Small packages of facial tissue
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Mints, cough drops, gum
- Lip balm
- Small comb or brush
- Heat packs
- Winter hat
- Brief note of encouragement or well-wishing
*All items should fit inside a gallon size zip top bag; please refrain from items such as hand sanitizer or mouthwash as they often contain alcohol.
As much as things change, things remain the same. This is not news. But let’s talk about the news or, more specifically, the media.
I’ve been hearing complaints about the holiday season starting earlier and earlier every year (most of the complaints have been coming from yours truly, but it’s only because I am still busy with the leftover Halloween candy and I don’t want to be pushed towards candy canes just yet), but a recent article in The Denver Post points out that even as early as 1912, stores were promoting Christmas sales early in the season. One ad even boldly stated: “For the sake of humanity, shop early.” Wow.
So actually Christmas promos aren’t earlier every year, we are just led to believe that. In reality, things have pretty much remained the same.
So, imagine my surprise when I heard that owning a home was no longer the quintessential American Dream! And you thought the impending wine shortage was serious.
A recent report stated that nearly one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 defined the American Dream as being debt-free. That’s good, right?. But what the poll was trying to convey is that more young people would rather be debt free than own a home, which throughout history was cited as part of the American Dream thanks to the societal status associated with home ownership.
But wait! The National Housing Survey of Delinquent Mortgage Borrowers study, conducted by Fannie Mae, asked questions about the importance of homeownership to those delinquent on their mortgages and 74% still see homeownership as better than renting.
So who’s right?
You’re right. Yes – you. Research and studies and polls and data can be skewed, so the only right answers when it comes to the question of whether or not to buy a home is whether it is the best decision for you now and in the future.
If you are, in fact, ready to buy, you should read my recent blog: Five Steps That Will Lead You Home, and remember that you would not perform brain surgery (I hope) if you were not a brain surgeon and therefore should probably not attempt home-buying without a professional at your side. A full-time, full-service Realtor with credentials and references is a good bet. Someone with CRS and ABR behind their name knows the ins and outs of the business while negotiating on your behalf. Realtors who have been in the business a long time know the pros and cons of different neighborhoods including everything from school districts to walking trails to resale values to the best floor plans for that perfect view.
If you are looking to buy or sell, I can help. In the meantime, enjoy that glass of cabernet before it’s gone for good.